Holiday Shopping Trends: 3 Things to Watch for in 2020

Which holiday shopping trends will take the spotlight in 2020? With success in eCommerce largely dependent upon a brand’s ability to anticipate changes in consumer behavior, it’s essential for retailers to be prepared.

To help us answer this question, we surveyed shoppers and asked them to reflect on their 2019 holiday spending habits. Their responses provided a window into what retailers can expect this year.

1. eCommerce’s holiday market share will experience slow growth

The majority of holiday gift purchases are made online rather than in-store. 67% of the consumers we surveyed indicated that at least half of their holiday shopping was completed online.

This is a strong adoption rate, but it’s only a 1% increase over last year. Furthermore, only 10% of people indicated that they purchase all of their gifts online – another 1% annual increase.

The unfortunate truth is that eCommerce may be approaching its peak– and with nowhere left to grow, the biggest holiday shopping trend of 2020 may in fact be a retail landscape that is more competitive than ever before.

2. Convenience will be top priority, not free shipping

eCommerce shoppers overwhelmingly want a free shipping option when they make a purchase online. Our research on loyalty programs found it to be the most popular loyalty club benefit, even above discounts and free gifts.

During the holidays, however, people have different priorities. 51% of consumers who took our survey said that the main reason they shop for gifts online was to avoid crowds, long lines and busy parking lots, and 43% said they did so to save time. By comparison, just 39% said that free shipping was a motivating factor in their online purchase.

Consumers prioritize convenience during the holidays. eCommerce brands should align their marketing messaging around this fact, emphasizing easy returns, quick delivery and promotions.

Why do holiday shoppers buy online?

The main reasons people bought holiday gifts online
Source: Bizrate Insights Flash Survey, January 2020

3. Customer satisfaction will rise – but loyalty will continue to drop

The good news is that eCommerce retailers are getting much better at making their customers happy. When we asked shoppers to rate their overall satisfaction with the retailer on a scale from 1 to 10, they were mostly positive. 41% selected 10 out of 10 (an increase of 10% from 2015), and less than 3% of shoppers chose a 5 out of 10 or lower.

Overall customer satisfaction during the 2019 holiday season

Overall consumer satisfaction with the holiday 2019 shopping experience
Source: Bizrate Insights Flash Survey, January 2020

Unfortunately, this means that consumers are less likely to repurchase from a brand if they have a positive experience. In the same survey, just 72% of consumers reported buying from the same retailer as the year prior – a 6% drop from 2015.

Competition is nothing new for eCommerce brands, but our data strongly suggests that the 2020 holidays are going to be more difficult than ever. Growth is stalling, while positive purchase experiences are becoming more uniform.

This will create a dramatically more competitive environment for online retailers, and it will become increasingly common for loyal customers to be lured away by competitors offering enticing one-time sales or special promotions.

Simply providing a seamless experience isn’t enough anymore. Retailers must go further than offering what consumers now see as universal (like fast checkout and free shipping) and work on creating a unique brand experience that customers will find memorable enough to return.